Federal Trail Funding Program Under Review by Senate

Government funding of recreational trails in flux for 2015

The simplest definition of politics is who gets what, when and why. It’s rarely logical, virtually never “fair” and it’s an inherently part of everyday life.

The latest and most pressing political issue in the world of recreational sports could affect everyone from mountain bikers to horseback riders. The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is the country’s biggest source of trail funding and it’s under review by the senate.

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) has asked everyone benefitting from these government funded trails to write to their local senator.

Senators won't respond nearly as well if these letters just come from the IMBA office. They need to hear from you—their constituents… The RTP is arguably the most important government program that benefits mountain bicyclists and funds the development and maintenance of thousands of miles of shared-use trails. RTP is a very effective, user-pay/user-benefit program that serves as the foundation for state trail programs across the country, leverages hundreds of millions of dollars of additional support for trails, and boosts economic activity in hundreds of communities.

 According to IMBA, funds from the program are supporting ongoing projects. Two such projects are the construction of the 50-mile Prescott Circle Trail in Arizona and an expansion on Coldwater Mountain in Alabama.

RTP funds have helped construct thousands of projects since the early 1990s. The program had a rocky start, only giving states funding three of the initial six years, but has since flourished. In 1998 the program was amended and more funds were made available for the states. The money comes from each state’s fuel tax money. Half of that tax money is distributed evenly among the states and the other half is given back in proportion to the amount of taxes raised by each individual state.

In 2013, the program paid out a combined $79,212,744 to the states. If you’d like to lobby your senator to extend RTP, you can find all the information for your senator and a pre-written letter here.

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